Unlike some of the films I am reviewing in the 31 Days of Christmas this year, Scrooged is definitely not a low budget independent film. Having always avoided watching it the past 35 years, I was sincerely smiling during my viewing. It would take forever to list all of the cast, but it can be boiled down to Bill Murray, Karen Allen, John Forsyth, John Glover and Bobcat Goldthwait. Also appearing are David Johansen, Carol Kane, Pat McCormick, Jamie Farr, Robert Goulet, Mary Lou Retton, Lee Majors, Buddy Hackett and so many more.
It’s the holiday season and television executive Frank Cross is in charge of putting together a live TV version of “A Christmas Carol”, Scrooge, for his network. First, however, Frank has to approve a trailer for another upcoming special, The Night the Reindeer Died starring Lee Majors and Bob Goulet’s Old Fashioned Cajun Christmas. He isn’t pleased with the results and shows his own trailer for Scrooge which horrifies the other executives. When one executive, Elliot, disagrees with his vision, Frank has him fired, which sets off a series of events throughout the film.
Frank seems to have no Christmas spirit, gifting everybody network logo socks for Christmas and expecting everybody to work – especially on Christmas Eve to produce the special. He has had to do a lot of back-stabbing and generally being ruthless over the last few years to become the youngest TV president in history. Even though he seems to be a jerk to everybody, somehow he receives an award for Humanitarian of the Year and leaves the award statue in the cab after the event.
The night before Christmas Eve, Frank is visited by a ghost from his past, his former boss who tells him he will be visited by three other ghosts this night, similar to in the Dickens book and his upcoming special. The Ghost of Christmas Past arrives and takes him to see his childhood where he spent hours and hours in front of the television set. They then go visit him flirting with a woman he once loved, Claire, but she moved on because he was too intent on working hard and long hours. After coming back to the present, he goes to see Claire to make amends but it doesn’t go exactly as planned.
Next up is the Ghost of Christmas Present who takes him to his assistant Grace’s apartment showing him how she is struggling to support her family after her husband was murdered. Her son, Calvin, hasn’t spoken since. He then sees his brother’s family making fun of his cheap gifts before he is left by the ghost with a frozen man he also saw in the past.
When he is returned to the present, he finds himself back at the TV studio and Herman is there trying to kill him for ruining his life. Frank escapes with the Ghost of Christmas Future, aka the Grim Reaper, who shows him Calvin’s fate and his own funeral. He breaks out of a coffin and finds Herman, still trying to kill him, but gives him his job back with a promotion. He then runs onto the set, breaking into the live broadcast, and gives a heartfelt speech about the holidays and his appreciation for life. Claire joins him for the big finale, and little Calvin finally speaks: “God bless us, everyone.”
I know many people consider Scrooged a holiday classic, but it never really appealed to me. However, after watching it for the first time, I can certainly see why people enjoy it. I definitely smiled when I saw Karen Allen appear, and laughed heartily at the beginning trailers at the IBC offices. The film held my interest pretty well through the beginning and had some funny moments.
Murray’s portrayal of Frank Cross was rather subdued yet over-the-top in a way in the first half of the film, and then boisterous for the film’s finale. The only parts that seemed to drag on were the scenes in Christmas past with Claire. While important in the story, the sequence seemed very long and frustrated me a little. The film may not be suitable for young kids as it shows Frank being a jerk, Herman trying to kill Frank, and a young child traumatized by his dad’s murder.
All in all, a good holiday film. I enjoyed the “behind the scenes” views of putting together a live TV special and I think I have known some TV execs who could use a visit from some ghosts as well. Right now in 2020, you can watch Scrooged on Amazon Price, Vudu and YouTube for a $2.99 rental.